Developing Assessment Strategies

Improving academic programs depends on gathering appropriate data about or evidence of students' learning. Middle States requires that program-level assessment include at least two measures of assessment, one of which must be a “direct” measure of student learning. (Departments may include either two direct measures or one direct and one indirect measure.) 

  • Direct measures provide evidence that actual learning has occurred and is in the form of a product or performance (e.g., exams, projects, or performances graded with rubrics).
  • Indirect measures tap characteristics that are associated with learning but imply that learning has occurred (e.g., number of hours students study, course evaluations, student satisfaction surveys).

Choose assessment strategies that align with and can provide evidence about the expected learning outcome. One good strategy is to use a rubric to evaluate students work. To assist with the interpretation and use of assessment findings, define minimally acceptable performance targets for your assessment measures. One simple way to do this is to clearly articulate what constitutes an unacceptable, acceptable, and exemplary performance for each assessment measure.

Questions to consider

  • What evaluation tools or approaches does the program have in place, and what information do they provide regarding how well students are achieving program and course goals and outcomes?
  • How useful are the existing assessment findings?
  • Do the tools include direct or actual measures of student learning?
  • Do they provide information on why students have or have not learned?